Asked by Richard Tubbs
The inventor of the first rocket is a mystery lost to time, but it’s believed that 9th Century Chinese alchemists invented gunpowder, which eventually led to bombs and rocket-propelled projectiles like cannonballs and arrows as well as the ubiquitous firecrackers.
The use of terrorising and deadly rockets by Genghis Khan during his widespread conquests of Asia, Russia and Europe spread the knowledge of rocket technology across the globe. The obvious military advantages of rockets as weapons of war accelerated advances in their technological development to create ever more powerful, accurate and destructive versions.
A key advance was the invention of the first liquid-fuelled rocket in 1926 by the American Robert Goddard in Auburn, Massachusetts. Goddard is considered to be one of the fathers of the modern rocket era. In the span of a few short decades this led to the German V-2 rockets and NASA’s Saturn V liquid-fuelled rockets which landed the first humans on the Moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, in 1969.
Answered by science journalist Dr Ken Kremer